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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Local team, Meat Church, to appear on Season 5 of BBQ Pitmaster's.

Before the turn of the New Year, a minor Twitter cowshit storm was brought about by Waxahachie resident, Matt Pittman. The reason was to get his competition team, Meat Church, on the upcoming season of BBQ Pitmaster’s. The $50,000 cash prize and an invite to the Kingsford competition doesn't hurt either.

Taking advantage of a few influential barbecue friends on social media (even the Dallas Observer), he and brother Josh Pittman, were able to generate enough interest to catch the attention of BBQ Pitmaster’s creator John Markus. Apparently everyone (and their barbecue-loving-mothers), pissed Markus off from the unbridled amount of Tweets aimed his way.

(Photo by Cody Neathery)

“Please, I am asking that you call off those lobbying us to put you on,” Markus pleaded in a direct message to Pittman's Twitter account. “Enough, ok? Network has made decisions. So sight tight.” Needless to say, after Markus’s passive aggressive requests for calm from the Twitter barbecue cult, Meat Church was selected to prove their cooking skills. 

When asked why he wanted to get on the program,“I’ve been to all the joints. Watched all the shows. Think I can beat anyone,” Pittman answered stoically, before swearing me to secrecy due to a non-disclosure act by the network. “I’m just a regular Joe trying to slay the dragon.” Smoking the dragon may be more appropriate in this case.

(Photo courtesy of Matt Pittman)

Pittman got his start smoking meat on the Big Green Egg and will be participating at The Texas Egg Fest down in Austin on April 26th. Dallas’s very own, Kent Rathbun, Chef/Owner of Abacus, Jasper’s, and Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen, will be joining as well.
Pittman may have the best locks amongst the smoked meat community, but can he bring the heat? There will be a watching party –open to the public –this Saturday, April 19th, at Lockhart Smokehouse. The show begins at 8 P.M.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Blind Butcher of lower Greenville.

Follow on Twitter: @DFWBBQ

With an endless amount of steakhouses in and around Dallas, one genre that hasn’t been tapped is a bar with a meat centered menu. In short, a watering hole where a guest can enjoy a Notary (similar to an Old Fashion) while hanging out at a meat counter. This constitutes for personal jubilation.

At The Blind Butcher, Goodfriend owners Matt Tobin and Josh Yingling, kept the interior simple, yet classic.  It has the welcomed appearance of a prohibition era saloon, but also offers neighborhood warmth fitting for Greenville Avenue.
Upon entering, you'll notice all furnishings are painted black, and there isn’t much light beside the soft glow from wall lamps and flatscreen TVs. Taking a seat on a barstool will guarantee a bartender's introduction with a handshake and you may catch yourself people watching via the bar’s giant mirror. I imagine a small room full of cigar smoking, fedora wearing gamblers tucked in the rear but in reality, a spacious patio with another bar.

Big Meat board (photo by Greg Cella)

After several visits since February, I’ve been impressed each time with both new items and the consistency of previous items ordered. The front of the menu is divided by snacks (appetizers rather), boards for sharing, and hand cranked sausages. Aside from the cocktail and beer menu, I find this to be all one needs to enjoy their inaugural experience here. Actually the only two items we ordered from the back of the menu was Pork Belly Poutine and Duck Fat Fries.

The Pig Ears, served with a side of orange aioli, are fried with an unassuming chewiness due to a thin piece of cartilage within. During our last visit, an agreement among the table was an improvement on the already great tasting snack. The house-cured Pastrami eggrolls were also still a favorite.

Ordered on the second visit was the Big Meat Board. This is your man’s man dish. Having enough meat to feed four, the protein is a selection of daily specials. What stood out on this evening were the bison short rib and stuffed chicken.

When it came time to sample the sausage, you cannot simply deny an opportunity to devour Duck Foie Gras sausage with chutney. For a less pretentious sounding choice, the bacon bratwurst with sauerkraut was also carefully selected.

The Duck Foie Gras stood out between the two, having a deeply rich and satisfying flavor. The bacon brat, though  composed of a completely different animal, made it tough to be comparable. However, the brat refused to settle for anything less than approval in taste.

Tangent: Bacon is the cornerstone of the American way of life by celebration of gluttony. The only way to disrespect bacon is to fry it. Sure, throw rocks at me. Then go make your own bacon and ovenize it. After this, you will never ever purchase Kroger bacon again or fry it. If you do, be prepared for my rock hurling.

Poutine's popularity in Canada is equivalent to Hawaii's obsession with Spam. Because of it's recent arrival on local dining tables, the Blind Butcher has three styles to choose from. While sparse of meat and not quite as tender, the Pork Belly Poutine was unique in the flavor delivery. In addition to the belly, layered on a pile of fries was a smoky gravy and cheese curds.

Blind Butcher wall menu (photo by Greg Cella)

I found this to be a choice go-to dish after a few late night beers from their sexy  menu of libations. The Chips and Beer cheese were also lightly decorated with duck pastrami and beer goat cheese, on what seemed to be generic potato chips.

Chef Oliver Sitrin has quietly carved a spot in the upper echelon of local meat purveyors with his unique menu and specialty sausages. The Blind Butcher is a must for meat aficionados to engage their digestive system. But most important is that you can shop for hand cranked sausage –  while sipping a Notary.

Monday, March 3, 2014

BBQ Events for the spring.

Things we like about March – Fat Tuesday, St. Patty’s Day, March Madness, and the beginning of spring. Items we dislike about March – sub-freezing weather.

With the constant threat of an Icepocalypse lurking and ready to expose its ice cubes at any given moment, it may be difficult to envision being outside, frolicking in 70-something degree weather. Do not fear, because like weathermen whose job is stating the obvious of hot or cold, I say it’s a safe bet you will be romping around in a field of blue bonnets.

You know what is better than illegally picking our state’s designated flower? Barbecue.  So, before you find yourself in the county jail with a pocket full of blue bonnets, how about getting grease on your shirt at one, or all, of these upcoming barbecue events.

·        You’re going to need to soak up all the alcohol from the prior weekend’s Dallas Observer Greenville Avenue St. Patty’s Day Parade (could the name be any longer?), so mosey on over to the Fort Worth Stockyards on March. 21-22. The International Barbecue Association Cook-off holds the 'Fort Worth Cops for Kids' competition with over 100 teams cooking meat in support of disadvantaged youth. Find your best handkerchief, head west, donate, and eat. Easy right!?

·        Houston has seldom been known for good barbecue. Once the Oilers left for Tennessee, there hasn’t been much to discuss. Not that either is actually related. Well, Houston no longer has a problem, and the barbecue has upped its game with CorkScrew BBQ and the recently opened Killen’s BBQ. Now the city will be hosting the 2nd annual Houston BBQ Fest at Reliant Park on April 6th. General admission tickets are $50 and $90 for VIP. A portion of proceeds also help Vita-Living, Inc. who supports people with disabilities.

·        Outdoors, live music, and beer. What if we combined those aforementioned items with 15 of the best barbecue joints in Texas? Well I’m no magician, and we've established I’m just as reliable as a weatherman – there is such an event. On May 3rd, The Red Dirt BBQ Fest in Tyler will be providing music from the Randy Rogers Band, Whiskey Myers, and Green River Ordinance, while barbecue from local favorites such as Hutchin’s BBQ, Cousin’s BBQ, The Slow Bone, and Lockhart Smokehouse will be serving up their meat stuff. I’d said that’s worth the hour and half drive east.